- All Mapping Yourself participants were already deeply engaged in their caregiving efforts, so the fact that they felt they learned a lot about their situations is very meaningful. It supports the project’s premise that caregivers can benefit from assistance and tools to better understand and manage their lives.
- Due to the experimental nature and limited time frame of the effort, participants were exposed to a wide range of tools very rapidly, too rapidly for deep comprehension. A slower learning curve will likely result in greater long-term impact.
- We learned not to mistake a person’s lack of technological sophistication with a lack of critical thinking skills. Even if a person has difficulty setting up a consumer-level technology, they may still be able to make sophisticated judgements on the resulting data by reflecting on their real-world lives.
- Brief, small-data tracking can produce valuable insights. For example, tracking incidents of phone calls pertaining to caregiving for one or two days, resulted in rich appreciation of daily busyness and fragmentation. Before committing to any complex or long-term tracking, it would best to try something quick and easy first.
We discovered in the “Mapping Yourself With Guidance” portion of the Mapping Santa Barbara project that the most meaningful and impactful learning resulted from active engagement in both data collection and analysis. A small set of data, deeply considered, was far more valuable than lots of data automatically collected and analyzed.
Six family caregivers met monthly, for four sessions from July to October, with two self-tracking experts, Rajiv Mehta, CEO of Atlas of Caregiving, and Dawn Nafus, Anthropologist and Senior Research Scientist at Intel. Participants explored new methods to track and assess their own caregiving activities and contexts. They experimented with sensor devices to track movement and sleep; paper-based tools (the Atlas CareMap, and a newly developed visual activity log) to track activities, interactions and emotions; and a concUsing the visual activity log helped participants see just how busy and fragmented their days were, and how the activities of caregiving and the rest of life were so interwoven. Such tracking was difficult, requiring time and mental energy, but valuable.
One participant told us, “I became aware of stuff I never thought about — like the diversity of emotions that are experienced. It’s not like I didn’t know I had feelings, but I had never taken the time to look at them so explicitly as when doing the tracking project. It really opened my eyes to the RANGE of emotions going on inside.”
The response from participants about the overall Mapping Yourself effort was uniformly and strongly positive. They told us they gained new and deeper insights into their situations, seemed to enjoy trying new things, and found the discussions worthwhile. It was clear, from participants’ comments and body language, throughout the four meetings, that they were very pleased with the project and were learning a lot about themselves and their caregiving situations.
More details about the experimental methods used, outcomes, and learnings are found in the Mapping Santa Barbara final report.